Warriors

Why former owner didn't allow Warriors to trade 'most popular player'

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AP

Why former owner didn't allow Warriors to trade 'most popular player'

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday night at 6 p.m. PT, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

In late May 2017, the Hawks hired Travis Schlenk to be their general manager. Schlenk had worked for the Warriors since the 2004-05 campaign, including his final five seasons as assistant GM.

Over the weekend, he was a guest on The Woj Pod, and was asked a specific question about his time with Golden State.

Adrian Wojnarowski: "When you think back to how that team got put together, are there one or two moments where you think, 'Wow, that could have so easily gone the other way, but for good fortune or sound decision-making, we did that?'"

"One instance really stands out in my mind," Schlenk began. "I remember when I first went from the coaching side to the front-office side -- Larry Riley was the GM at the time. He came to me and said, 'Hey, you know I could really use you on the front-office side.' Don Nelson was the head coach. Nellie came and talked to me, and he said, 'Listen, I think you have a great eye for talent. I think you should go work in the front office.'

"And at first, I was taken back. My dream since I was a little kid growing up in Western Kansas in a town of 200 people was to be a coach. And I thought I had a good eye for it with the X's and O's. But my wife and I, we'd just had our first kid and I remember thinking to myself, 'Well there's a lot more stability in the front-office side of things than on the coaching side of things. Maybe I should do this.' So we did it.

"I told Larry -- we were at the hoop summit up in Portland -- I said, 'I'll come do the front-office side with you, but you gotta promise, you know, we'll trade these two guys. We gotta trade these two guys because at the time we didn't have the world's best locker room and we had a young group of guys that we wanted to try to develop.

"And we both agreed that was gonna be our plan and our strategy. Now it took us two years to do it, but we got it done."

OK. Now to the juicy part.

"Back to the original question," Schlenk said. "One moment (that) really changed the course of everything -- there was a trade that we wanted to do. And we were sitting down with the owner at that time, Chris Cohan. And we said we think we should do this trade -- we're getting back two guys, it frees up our cap, it's gonna allow the growth of Steph. And Chris said, 'We can't do that trade. Player X is the most popular player we have, and season-ticket renewals (are) around the corner.'

"And I was just like, you gotta be kidding me. We are gonna make this decision based on who our fans think should be on our team, not the guys that you've hired to put together the team?"

At this point, Woj interjects and says, 'This was the Bucks, right?"

"No, this wasn't the Bucks," Schlenk answered. "I don't want to name the players. So, we didn't do the trade. And then later on we were able to do a trade with that player that brought us Andrew Bogut. And that was obviously a big piece of the championship puzzle.

"As they say, sometimes the best deals you do are the ones you don't do."

Innnnnnnnnnteresting.

So without explicitly revealing the player's name, we all can put on our detective hats and determine that Schlenk had to be referring to ...

... Monta Ellis.

[RELATEDTravis Schlenk shares story from moments before Warriors drafted Steph]

In March 2012, the Warriors traded Ellis, Kwame Brown and Ekpe Udoh to the Bucks for Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Let's just say that neither Brown nor Udoh were considered Golden State's "most popular player." 

In case you forgot, Monta last appeared in an NBA game in April 2017. He was waived three months later, and the Pacers decided to stretch his contract over the subsequent five seasons. So yes, he will make $2,245,400 each year through the 2021-22 campaign.

Finally, the obvious follow-up thought/question to Schlenk's comments is: Who was the other player he wanted to trade?

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

Warriors' Steve Kerr makes odd request of Steph Curry in NBA playoffs

OAKLAND — Steve Kerr’s latest request of Steph Curry is short, simple and initially puzzling: Let ‘em score.

Three words, easily understood, but completely against the competitive instincts of an elite NBA player conditioned to accept defense as an essential part of the game.

Kerr isn’t telling Curry to neglect defense. Rather, the coach is advising his superstar to weigh his overall value to the Warriors in the NBA playoffs against the significance of committing fouls in hopes of preventing two points.

“Sometimes, he just gets in the habit of trying to strip the ball,” Kerr said Tuesday after practice. “So, more than anything, it’s just about trying to get him past that habit. I keep telling him how valuable he is. I’d much rather he just got out of the guy’s way and gave him a layup and kept playing.

“He’s much more valuable than two points. And we’ve got plenty of help; our defense is predicated on help.”

This, in the big picture, makes sense. While the Warriors seek to close out the Clippers in Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday, advancing likely means getting a dose of potent Houston.

Anyone care to imagine Curry on the bench with foul trouble against the Rockets?

Curry’s impact against Los Angeles was neutralized by foul trouble in Games 3 and 4. Though having him on the bench for long stretches, saddled with foul trouble, is not ideal in this series, it would invite disaster should the Warriors advance and face Houston.

After committing four or more fouls just four times over the final 27 games of the regular season, Curry has been whistled at least that often in every game against LA. Picking up five fouls in Game 3, including his fourth early in the third quarter, limited him to 20 minutes.

So Curry, prior to Game 4, put a message on his shoes, “No Reach” -- a reminder to avoid a tendency that usually is his quickest route to foul trouble.

“I have confidence in my hand-eye coordination and hand speed,” Curry said. “That’s how I get steals usually, by being quick. But that’s how I get fouls, too, so I’ve got to balance both of them.

“The ones I’ve had trouble with in this series are ones that I shouldn’t even be in that situation to begin with. There’s help behind the play. I’m not even involved in the play, really. I’m just kind of lunging at it. That’s just a lack of focus.

“We could nitpick each one of them and understand exactly why. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to continue to stay on the floor on our normal rotations and not foul.”

There was progress in Game 4 insofar as Curry generally avoided reaching. And when he committed his third foul with 4:16 left in the first half, Kerr stayed with him.

Curry rewarded the coach by playing the rest of the half and the entire third quarter without a whistle. He played 35 minutes, committing four fouls.

Moreover, the Warriors won both games.

[RELATED: Beverley explains why he doesn't talk trash to Curry]

“If he’s got a couple fouls already, he should be able to play with those fouls,” Kerr said. “I’ve always trusted him. Since I’ve been here, I’ve generally played him with two fouls in the first half or three in the third quarter. I believe in letting a guy go, letting him play, a star player like that especially. The second half was a great sign that he’s kind of made it past that habit.”

The Warriors would like to think so.

They’d like to believe that building better habits in this series will make them stronger in the next one. History has shown they are strongest with Curry on the floor.

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Richard Jefferson offers opinion on Kevin Durant's comments about media

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Wednesday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Richard Jefferson gets paid to talk about basketball and express his opinions.

Over the last couple of years, he hasn't shied away from discussing his feelings about the Warriors and/or Kevin Durant.

On Tuesday, he was a guest on ESPN's show "The Jump" and KD's recent comments about the media was obviously a topic of conversation.

"You go back and look at the history of the game -- Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the amount of pressure that they had to save this league; Michael Jordan, no player to me has ever had so much weight on his shoulders; then you go forward to Kobe Bryant after the post-Jordan era; then all of a sudden Kobe kind of faded away because LeBron James was in the prime of his career.

"If you want that 'Best player, I'm going to be the guy to hold this league down the next five years' (title), you need to be able to handle this better than how he (Durant) has," Jefferson said. "We need you, the game of basketball needs you to be better at this."

So what did KD say exactly?

“They need me. If I wasn’t a free agent, none of this s--t would go on, right?" the reigning two-time Finals MVP told NBC Sports Bay Area's Logan Murdock. “ None of this speculation about who I am, what’s wrong with my mental, why I’m miserable, why I ain’t happy with life. Nothing.”

Last summer, Durant elected to sign another "1+1" contract with the Warriors in order to maintain flexibility and possess the option to become a free agent again this summer. Ever since, there has been rampant speculation about his future and incessant discussion about his state of mind.

Back in mid-November, Steph Curry said: "With how active our guys are on social media, it’s hard not to see that stuff. But it tests your character, makes you figure out how to compartmentalize stuff. Either you take it as entertainment or you get influenced by it. Whatever you think, however you are in real life, in terms of how impressionable you are, how insecure you might be, how confident in yourself you might be, that’ll all reflect in how you handle it.”

Things boiled over for Durant in early February when the 10-time All-Star broke his silence and lashed out at the media following the Warriors' win over the Spurs.

[RELATEDJerry West believes Warriors' weak point is very obvious]

Jefferson has the utmost respect for KD the basketball player, but believes he needs to tweak his approach to reporters.

"I think he's on the Mount Rushmore of this generation," Jefferson added. "But make no mistake, the game of basketball -- which has provided for me, all of us, all of our families and his -- needs him to be able to handle this better because that's what the title of 'king' means.

"When you are the king, when you are No. 1, that means you have a ton more responsibility that you have to handle or you're not fit for that."

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